New Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci hopes to start laying the foundations to rebuild the Azzurri when they face Argentina on Wednesday.

Italy won their first European Championship since 1968 by defeating England on penalties last July at Wembley.

Roberto Mancini's side return to Wembley to meet Argentina in the 'Finalissima' between the Euro 2020 winners and Copa America champions.

Italy have struggled since their last visit to England's national stadium; missing out on a second straight World Cup after falling to a stunning play-off defeat against North Macedonia.

Bonucci has replaced Giorgio Chiellini as skipper of both Juventus and Italy, with his defensive partner heading for the exit door in Turin and announcing he will retire from international football following the game against Argentina.

The 35-year-old Bonucci is relishing the challenge of facing Lionel Scaloni's side.

"They are among the best in the world, Argentina hasn't lost in 31 games and it's no coincidence," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We need maximum commitment and respect. We must start again and lay the foundations to bring Italy back to the top."

Argentina captain Lionel Messi suggested Italy would have been favourites for the World Cup should they have appeared in Qatar, and Bonucci expressed his gratitude for those comments.

"The fault is ours, it took very little to be able to play in something truly unique for a player's career," he added.

"We thank Messi for the kind words he said about us; tomorrow two winning national teams will meet and we want to put on a show to take the trophy home."

Bonucci hailed Messi, who will aim to guide Argentina to their third World Cup win and first since 1986.

"For a player who has won so many Golden Balls it is difficult to find words to described him," the Juve defender continued. 

"He was, and still is today, with Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best in the world – great respect will be needed."

As for Chiellini's international retirement, Bonucci hopes to give him a fitting send-off as he outlined his own plans for captaincy.

"We must enjoy this last day with him, he was a great companion on the pitch and in life," he said. "From the day after tomorrow I will continue to do what I have always done, to be an example.

"From Chiellini I learned the ability to work out difficult situations in a short time and find the solution.

"That is the secret that made Giorgio a great person and a great captain, I'll try to smooth out the flaws. My team-mates will have to help me too, just as we helped Chiellini and [Gianluigi] Buffon."

Juventus star Leonardo Bonucci has expressed his admiration for outgoing Bianconeri and Italy team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.

Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter in midweek that this season will be his last for Juve, who the 37-year-old has played for since 2004 and won 20 trophies during his time in Turin.

The veteran defender has already announced he will retire from international duty with Italy as well after a meeting with Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

It will be a fitting end for Chiellini after he lifted the Euro 2020 title at Wembley following a penalty shoot-out victory over England last July alongside long-time team-mate Bonucci.

Reports in Italy suggest Chiellini may opt to play in MLS before taking his vast experience into management or a coaching role.

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed Bonucci will take the captain's armband at Juve for the next campaign, and the centre-back was quick to heap praise on his colleague Chiellini.

The defensive duo won eight Serie A titles together and claimed the Coppa Italia five times, while they also helped Juve reach the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017.

Bonucci posted on Instagram: "Dear Giorgio, where to start?

"I think it has to be from the end. Today is your day and the day the team, these colours, this dressing room starts to miss you. You have been an example, a guidance, a brother, a friend.

"We have shared more than 10 years together, we have rejoiced, we have suffered, we have worked hard, we have closed ranks together, we have fought, we have WON.

"Won a lot with Juve, won something unique with Italy. Being on the pitch alongside you, for me, has been a privilege, an honour. Off the pitch even more so. I have learned from you to be ready for anything.

"Best of luck to you, legend, for what's to come. Whatever it is, you will always do it as the top of the class.

"The invisible piece of rope which followed us onto the pitch will keep us tied together forever in my football battles, in the victories and in the more difficult moments.

"Thank you, captain. I love you."

A clash with Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on Monday will be Chiellini's final home appearance for the Old Lady.

Leonardo Bonucci will be the new captain of Juventus following the announced departure of Giorgio Chiellini, Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed.

The Bianconeri head coach was speaking ahead of Juve's final home game of the season against Lazio and said he wants to "combine all three things", referring to playing well while saying goodbye to outgoing duo Chiellini and Paulo Dybala.

Chiellini confirmed he will leave Juventus at the end of the season following their 4-2 defeat to Inter in the Coppa Italia final.

The veteran centre-back has spent 17 years with the Bianconeri, winning 20 trophies during his time in Turin.

Dybala is also exiting the Allianz Stadium at the end of the campaign and has been linked with the likes of Inter, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United.

"It's the last home game, you have to honour it to the fullest. And then it's Giorgio Chiellini's party and Paulo Dybala's last [game], we have to combine all three things," Allegri told reporters at a media conference on Sunday.

"They are two different things. Giorgio stops or has an experience in America, I don't know. Paulo changes team. Both will have the tribute of the fans, as I believe will [Lazio boss, Maurizio] Sarri, who returns and was the last [head coach] to win the Scudetto with Juve."

As for Juve's next skipper, Allegri added: "The new Juventus captain will be Bonucci."

The former Milan boss was also asked about Paul Pogba, who has been linked with a return to Juve once his contract at Manchester United expires next month.

"Pogba is a United player. Before talking about the transfer market, let's finish the season and then we'll take stock with the club," he said. "We don't have to evaluate not only the market but also what happened during the season at 360 degrees.

"[Do I] remember Paul? I have already forgotten, several years have already passed. I have a full memory card."

Allegri was asked to summarise the season, with Juve qualifying for the Champions League but never really challenging in the Serie A title race.

"I'm satisfied with the path and the goal, but not satisfied to have not won a trophy," he said.

"The team has done its best. Even if I always say, 'let's play with those who are here', in the long run we have paid for traumatic injuries: [Federico] Chiesa, [Weston] McKennie, Danilo, Bonucci… We have players who will certainly grow, then with the club we will improve the shortcomings of this team."

Leonardo Bonucci believes fresh blood is needed for a Juventus squad in the process of "rejuvenation".

Bonucci scored a double, including a 76th-minute winner, on his birthday as Juve took another step towards securing Champions League qualification for next season with a 2-1 Serie A victory over bottom club Venezia.

The result moved Juve 11 points ahead of Roma, who face Bologna later on Sunday.

Eighteen-year-old midfielder Fabio Miretti made an impressive debut, with Bonucci hailing his performance and the infusion of youth into a team that is off the pace in a Scudetto race it has typically dominated in recent years.

“Fabio had a great performance, but we already knew his qualities and had no doubts he’d do well, even if he is young," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia.

"The squad is in the process of rejuvenation and fresh blood is welcome.

“My role is to pass on my experience, that need to never give up and fight to the end."

Referencing his wife's sponsored walk for the hospital that looked after their son when he fell ill following hernia surgery, Bonucci added: "It was a great day for my whole family, it felt like coming full circle after my wife's charity initiative.

"We needed to bring home the win to ensure the last three games wouldn't be too complicated, but Venezia deserve credit for coming here and playing open football.

"We always need to improve, because we've seen that when we've got the engine revved up, we can have our say.

"These last few games need to be training to prepare for next season."

Leonardo Bonucci marked his 35th birthday with two goals as Juventus made hard work of a 2-1 win over bottom side Venezia to all but secure a top-four finish in Serie A.

The Bianconeri had taken just one point from their previous two matches at the Allianz Stadium but did enough to claim victory against Venezia, who have now lost nine in a row.

Full debutant Fabio Miretti played a big part in Bonucci's headed opener inside seven minutes, but Juve were pegged back through a Mattia Aramu strike 19 minutes from time.

However, Bonucci bundled in a late winner to ensure that his side now require just two points from their remaining three games to keep Roma at bay in the battle for fourth.

 

Juve nearly opened the scoring four minutes in when Luca Pellegrini fired a ferocious strike against the crossbar from range.

The hosts did not have to wait much longer for their breakthrough, though, as Matthijs de Ligt nodded Miretti's delivery back across goal for Bonucci to turn in from close range.

Venezia, who sacked Pablo Zanetti this week and placed Andrea Soncin in temporary charge, took full advantage of Juve's failure to kill off the match through Aramu's long-ranger.

That had Venezia on course for successive 1-1 draws against Juve, only for the Bianconeri to snatch all three points when a corner was not dealt with and went in off Bonucci's shin.

What does it mean? A return to home comforts for Juve – just!

Juve have picked up more points on their travels (35) than they have at home this season (34 with this win) and this was another occasion in which they never truly got going.

Massimiliano Allegri's side have lost just one of their past 21 league games overall and also have a Coppa Italia final with Inter to look forward to later this month.

The immediate priority is nailing down fourth place and, barring a miraculous collapse over their remaining three games, that is as good as achieved.

Leonardo leads the way

Bonucci has now scored five Serie A goals for Juventus this season, which is his best tally in a single campaign.

The veteran Italy international has equalled team-mate Giorgio Chiellini as the defender to have found the net in the most years in the competition since 2000 (13).

Mattia makes his mark

Aramu had gone 14 matches between finding the net in Serie A, with his most recent strike prior to today coming in December's draw with Juventus.

The 26-year-old was Venezia's sole attacking spark, registering all three of his side's attempts on target, including that impressive effort from range.

What's next?

Juventus are back in action on Friday with a trip to Genoa, while Venezia travel to fellow strugglers Salernitana on Thursday.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged the Bianconeri's slim title hopes were over despite Dusan Vlahovic's dramatic late equaliser against Bologna.

The Serbian striker scored the 50th goal of his Serie A career five minutes into stoppage time to spare the blushes of the Turin giants, who were on course for an embarrassing loss despite Adama Soumaoro and Gary Medel receiving late red cards for Bologna after Marko Arnautovic's second-half opener.

The result marked the first time Juventus have failed to defeat Bologna since February 2016 and left Allegri's men eight points behind league leaders Milan with just five games remaining, as their hopes of a 10th Scudetto in 11 seasons faded.

Juventus failed to register a single shot on target during a dismal first-half showing, the fifth time they have done so during Allegri's first season back at the helm but first since facing Fiorentina in November.

The 54-year-old insisted after the draw that the Bianconeri were embroiled in a four-way battle for Champions League football rather than the title race, acknowledging his team needed to show more patience against a stubborn Bologna defence. 

"This year Juve is not fighting for the Scudetto," Allegri said. "We had gotten close to Inter, even until today, when we stopped. 

"In football, however, anything could happen. Reaching fourth place remains an important goal. I think Fiorentina have a good calendar and a direct match against us. Then there are also Lazio and Roma.

"We take one step at a time. In football you think one thing and another happens. We have to be calmer. The games last a long time and there is always time to win them."

Juventus hold a lead of six points over fifth-placed Roma in the Serie A table, having played one extra game ahead of the Giallorossi facing Napoli on Monday.

Allegri refused to criticise his team for a below-bar display, however, suggesting they would have lost the same game had it occurred at the start of the season.

"We managed to equalise a match that had become complicated after playing a bad first half," he added. "Immediately [after conceding] we hit the post and shot more on goal. 

"Lately we have conceded too many goals, we need to improve, but we would have lost these games at the beginning of the season. Let's look at the glass half full."

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci also rued the Old Lady's lack of patience when faced with breaking down their opponents, as Bologna avoided defeat at Juventus for the first time since September 2011.

"We tried to push and put pressure on after the equaliser," the 34-year-old said. "With more clarity we could also have scored the second goal, given their numerical inferiority. 

"It was a pity because three points could have given us so much."

With Juve seemingly out of the Serie A title race, their last hope of silverware this season is the Coppa Italia, in which they host Fiorentina on Wednesday after winning their semi-final first leg 1-0.

Leonardo Bonucci has confirmed he will not retire from international football, while backing Roberto Mancini after Italy failed to qualify for a second straight World Cup.

Bonucci was part of Mancini's Azzurri side that responded to not making the 2018 World Cup in Russia by winning Euro 2020 late in July last year.

Italy also embarked on a world-record 37-game unbeaten run, which came to an end against Spain in the Nations League semi-final in October, as they aimed to reach Qatar 2022.

However, Mancini's team could not top their World Cup qualifying group and succumbed to a late 1-0 loss against North Macedonia as Aleksandar Trajkovski delivered the decisive strike in the play-off semi-final on Thursday.

That led to speculation over Mancini's tenure and doubts over whether the national team's senior players would continue into the twilight of their careers, but Bonucci has committed his future to Italy.

"I don't know what Giorgio [Chiellini] will do. On my end, I want to continue to be an example and guide the younger players coming through wearing this shirt," he said at a news conference on Monday.

"The hours after the elimination was tough. We remained quiet during our moments together, like team lunches or dinners. We tried to play down the disappointment by saying that young players will have other opportunities.

"After the coach spoke to us, we put the past behind us and looked to the future. The future is now so we must start to rebuild and get what we didn't achieve. We have a solid base to come back."

Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina has suggested he would like Mancini to remain in charge, and Bonucci echoed his sentiments as he praised his manager.

"What the coach has given us in these three years is something unique," he continued. "There is an empathy that is rare to see at Coverciano [Italy's headquarters], continuing with Mancini is the only logical decision.

"His ideas and values are not under question. Anything can happen in a game and opinions can change, but we have been with him every day and want to continue it."

Leonardo Bonucci has no doubt Italy will recover from their World Cup qualifying humiliation to be a major power once again, pointing out they produced a similar response not so long ago.

Italy were incredibly defeated 1-0 by North Macedonia in Thursday's Qatar 2022 qualifying play-off semi-final, with Aleksandar Trajkovski's stoppage-time winner stunning world football.

Roberto Mancini's men had dominated the match, but Trajkovski's speculative long-range effort left Azzurri players and coaching staff looking dismayed.

It marked a monumental change in fortunes from last year when a largely unfancied Italy side won Euro 2020, which was seen a huge achievement given their absence from Russia 2018.

As such, this will be the first time in World Cup history Italy have missed consecutive tournaments, with their failure to reach the 2018 edition instigating something of rebuild of the senior set-up.

Mancini has seemingly escaped much of the criticism, with many fans of the opinion he overachieved significantly when guiding them to European Championship success last year, and Bonucci appears to be confident Italy will respond swiftly and efficiently.

Bonucci, who missed Thursday's defeat due to injury, wrote on Instagram: "The two emotions are at opposite ends. The great euphoria and joy of the summer [at Euro 2020] are clearly contrasted with the disappointment and bitterness of this exclusion, exacerbated even more by not being able to help my team-mates for those 90 minutes.

"Now is the time to look ahead. Last summer we took the credit and praise for having done something unique; today we must take responsibility for not having earned the passage for our own demerits, more than for the merits of others.

"It is time for concrete and in-depth analysis to start over, to give Italy and the Italians what they deserve.

"We have done this before. And the climb has already begun, for me, for us.

"It will be hard to get back to the top, but we have already shown that we know how to get there. The future is now!"

 

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has left out Mario Balotelli from his squad for the upcoming World Cup playoffs, while handing maiden call-ups to Joao Pedro and Luiz Felipe.

The Azzurri failed to top their World Cup qualifying group, which leaves them having to beat North Macedonia in the playoff semi-finals on Thursday to set up a meeting against Turkey or Portugal five days later.

The draw means one of the two previous European Championship winners, Portugal and Italy, will not feature at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Mancini has named a 33-man squad for the upcoming clash against North Macedonia in Palermo, with Balotelli snubbed for the introduction of Cagliari forward Joao Pedro, who was born in Brazil but has an Italian passport.

Lazio defender Luiz Felipe also qualifies under the same criteria and he features in the Italy squad for the first time, while Federico Chiesa and Leonardo Spinazzola miss out through injury.

Moise Kean, Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria were also notable omissions, with Cristiano Biraghi expected to take Spinazzola's full-back spot and Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo filling in for Chiesa.

Matteo Politano, Stefano Sensi and Pierluigi Gollini - who replaces the injured Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret - all return, with Manuel Locatelli called up despite testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Locatelli's Juventus colleague Leonardo Bonucci has made the squad even though he suffered a reoccurring problem with his calf in Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League aggregate loss to Villarreal.

Italy squad:

Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Pierluigi Gollini (Tottenham), Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa); Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Lyon), Alessandro Florenzi (Milan), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma); Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Sampdoria), Sandro Tonali (Milan), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain); Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Joao Pedro (Cagliari), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo) Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).

Massimiliano Allegri confirmed Juventus stars Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala will return against Villarreal in the Champions League, while he hailed the partnership between Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata.

The Bianconeri were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the last-16 clash between the pair on February 22, leaving it all to play for in the return meeting on Wednesday in Turin.

History favours the Italian hosts at the Allianz Stadium, given Juve have won each of their last six Champions League home games - only managing more consecutive such victories once in the competition (10 games between 1996 and 1997).

Allegri's side will also be boosted by the return of Dybala and Chiellini, who have not featured in over a month due to muscle injuries, but they will be without Leonardo Bonucci and Alex Sandro.

"Chiellini, Dybala and [Federico] Bernardeschi are back," Allegri told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

"They are three important returns, we hope to win the game in normal time otherwise we will have to do it in extra time.

"Tomorrow the substitutions will be important. Chiellini, Dybala and Bernardeschi are not ready to play 90 minutes, but they can be important changes.

"Bonucci is out: at Empoli and with Villarreal in the first leg, he was struggling with injury and made himself available to the team. He has a calf problem that will keep him out.

"Alex [Sandro] felt something in his calf and I do not want to risk it, since it is not the last game of the season. [Denis] Zakaria will maybe come back on Thursday, otherwise after the international break."

 

Vlahovic became just the third player in Champions League history to score inside the first minute on their debut in the competition, after Andreas Moller (for Borussia Dortmund v Juventus) and Ishak Belfodil (for Hoffenheim v Manchester City).

Allegri revealed that the former Fiorentina striker will start against Unai Emery's side, while he praised the recent form of the Serbian forward and partner Morata.

"Vlahovic will play, Morata is in good form and he's always had quality. He was always criticised despite playing in a position that was not his natural one.

"I am happy with him, he is playing well with Vlahovic, he has more freedom on the pitch. We all feel well, we'll also need a bit of luck to qualify.”

As for Juve's chances of winning the competition, Allegri - who has twice guided the Bianconeri to the Champions League final - insisted that his side must leave everything on the pitch and not have any regrets.

"I have clear ideas, hopefully, I’ll get it right. The team is feeling well. It’s the decisive moment of the season," he continued.

"We must have the ambition to reach the final, it's a target we have so we must try. If we are good and lucky, we'll make it, if the others are better than us, we won't make it.

"We can't have regrets, tomorrow is like a final that we play at home. 

"However, we've done nothing so far. We can't lose balance, we must keep our feet on the ground and take a step at a time. The target was to get to March and play for our targets. We are here, there's adrenaline, the fans will have to help us.

"Villarreal are an experienced team, with a very good coach. They concede almost nothing, we must make as few mistakes as possible and prepare the game well. We took some risks in Spain, but we also had a few chances to double the lead."

Massimiliano Allegri believes Juventus' improvement in recent weeks is simply down to greater familiarity and understanding between himself and the players.

Allegri returned to Juve last May after two years away, with Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo each spending a season at the helm during the intervening campaigns.

The experiment with Pirlo proved particularly ill-judged, while Sarri was shown the door despite guiding Juve to the title – his successor presided over a fourth-placed finish as the Bianconeri's Scudetto streak ended at nine.

Allegri's return did not usher in an immediate change in fortunes, with Juve taking just two points from their first four Serie A matches. That was their worst start to a season in 60 years and left them in the bottom three.

But their form did soon pick up, and in the past three months they have embarked on a promising run. The Bianconeri head into Friday's Derby della Mole against Torino unbeaten in 11 league games – their best such sequence since a stretch of 12 without defeat from September to December 2020 – and sitting fourth.

That run was almost ended by Atalanta last weekend, but Danilo's stoppage-time goal salvaged a 1-1 draw. Allegri is adamant he knows why Juve have climbed the table.

"Personal goals have been set aside to make yourself available to the team," Allegri told reporters of his players.

"We have been together for six or seven months now, we know each other better. Now they know my language better, too. We are more of a team, there is enthusiasm and desire to win."

On the Atalanta draw, Allegri added: "The team was doing well, then we conceded a goal when in a favourable situation.

"We look at the glass half full: it was a good point, we were left in front of them. We must continue our journey to try to finish in the top four.

"We must not be happy regardless. The draw with Atalanta [only] becomes excellent if we win the derby.

"A point is also important. You can win or lose the Scudetto by a point, enter the Champions League or not by a point, you save yourself or not by a point."

Nevertheless, Juve certainly have issues to contend with ahead of Friday's clash, particularly in the injury department.

Leonardo Bonucci will be absent, meaning only Matthijs de Ligt is set to be available from their first-choice defensive trio – Giorgio Chiellini is not expected to return from a "low-grade lesion" in his calf until next month.

"Tomorrow is complicated, I don't know if I'll line up with the three up front," he continued. "There will also be no Bonucci, he has calf fatigue. Let's see if he will be available on Tuesday [against Villarreal in the Champions League].

"Who plays centre-back? It depends. Denis Zakaria could."

Victory at the Allianz Stadium on Friday would move Juve to within four points of third-placed Napoli and six of pacesetters Milan, though the top three will all have at least one game in hand.

Massimiliano Allegri says there is no questioning the "extraordinary" Paulo Dybala's value to Juventus and does not expect Arthur to leave this month.

Dybala's future is in doubt as the Argentina forward's contract expires at the end of the season and the 28-year-old has been linked with a move to Serie A rivals Inter.

Juve director Maurizio Arrivabene this week called for Dybala and his team-mates to show "character, grit and a desire to win" as the Turin giants battle for a Champions League spot.

Bianconeri head coach Allegri, who will take charge of the club for a 300th time when they face Udinese in Serie A on Saturday, says Dybala still has a big part to play.

He said: "The evaluations of the contracts are the job of the company, they are not things that concern me.

"I raised Dybala, he was a child when he arrived from Palermo, now he's grown up and he's an extraordinary player. I expect a lot [from Dybala] in this second part of the season. The value of the player is not discussed. He is a great player "

He added: "We are in a situation where we are temporarily out of the Champions League, so all the evaluations will be done in March/April. Juventus plans like this and we have to think about playing and working, we will see the rest later."

Midfielder Arthur has been strongly linked with a move to Premier League side Arsenal during the January transfer window.

Allegri is not planning for life without the Brazilian and also reiterated that Alvaro Morata will not be departing.

He said: "I don’t want to repeat myself. We have to get to the end of the season with these players in the best possible way.

"This means trying to reach the top four and go ahead in the Champions League and Coppa Italia."

Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci will miss Udinese's visit to Allianz Stadium due to a muscle injury.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain each have four nominees in the 23-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 for 2021.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are also included, although there is no place for Mohamed Salah.

PSG's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are among the forwards, as is Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran Dani Alves also won enough votes to make the list, even though the 38-year-old, who recently rejoined Barcelona, only played 16 times in domestic competition in Brazil this year.

Professional footballers across the world were asked to vote for the three players they considered to have the best seasons during the 2020-21 season among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

FIFPRO said: "For the first time in 17 years, FIFPRO is updating the announcement about the most-voted players, reducing the shortlist from 55 to 23. This has been done to resemble a real-life 'squad' which, usually for international competitions, is the number of players involved. 

"The three goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and six forwards with the most votes earned a place in the 23-men World 11 'squad'. To complete this elite selection, the two remaining outfield players with the most votes were added."

The keeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards with the most votes will be chosen for the World 11, with the remaining spot assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes.

The final 11 will be announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on January 17.

 

FIFA FIFPRO MEN'S WORLD 11 23-PLAYER SHORTLIST:

Goalkeepers:
Alisson (Liverpool, Brazil)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy)
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal)

Defenders:
David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)
Dani Alves (Sao Paulo/Barcelona, Brazil)
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

Midfielders:
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, Spain)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal)
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, The Netherlands)
Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France)

Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)
Romelu Lukaku (Inter/Chelsea, Belgium)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)

Massimiliano Allegri is "worried" about Juventus' second-half display in their 1-0 win over Malmo that helped clinch top spot in Champions League Group H.

The Italian side saw off Malmo in Wednesday's contest at the Allianz Stadium thanks to a first-half header from Moise Kean.

That fifth win from six group matches ensured Juve finished two points above holders Chelsea, who were pegged back late on in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Zenit.

Despite securing one of the seeded spots for Monday's last-16 draw, Allegri was not pleased with the way his side dropped off in the second half.

"We're happy to finish first; it shows that winning is not easy," he said at his post-match news conference. "But let's put the game aside and think about Venezia on Saturday.

"I'm worried because I didn't like the second half. But we go into the game with three wins without conceding a goal and on Saturday we play in a field where it is difficult to play.

"As for finishing top, it's like I said before – being first does not tell us who we will draw. Right now, the only concern is the match against Venezia."

With his match-winning header, Kean has now scored four goals in five Champions League starts across spells with Paris Saint-Germain (three goals) and Juventus (one).

He is only the second Italian aged 21 or under to score for Juve in the competition after Alessandro Del Piero, who netted eight times before turning 22.

Fellow youngster Koni de Winter also impressed as he became the youngest player to start a match for the Bianconeri in the Champions League at 19 years and 179 days.

Belgium Under-21s international De Winter played 71 minutes at right-back and had the fourth-most touches (78) of any Juve player on the field.

"He didn't play the whole game but I'm happy with him," Allegri said. "He's a technical player and can play central or full-back. He played with real personality today."

Juve have won six home Champions League games in a row for just the second time in the 21st century, having previously done so between December 2016 and October 2017.

Allegri's side are well off the pace domestically, however, and Leonardo Bonucci accepts his side cannot be considered among the favourites to win a third European Cup.

"It would be hypocritical to say that Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Liverpool do not have something more than us," he said. 

"Whoever we draw, even if it's Paris Saint-Germain or Atletico Madrid, we need to arrive in the best possible form. We have to reach at least the quarter-finals this time."

Wojciech Szczesny said Juventus' performance in a 4-0 Champions League thrashing at the hands of titleholders Chelsea was "unacceptable".

Chelsea cruised into the round of 16 and replaced Juve, who had already qualified, at the top of Group H by hammering Massimiliano Allegri's side at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Trevoh Chalobah opened the scoring in the first half with a controversial goal after Antonio Rudiger appeared to handle the ball in the penalty area.

The Premier League leaders ran riot after the break, the outstanding Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner consigning the Bianconeri to their heaviest Champions League defeat.

Juve had not lost by a four-goal margin in any competition since they were subjected to a 4-0 drubbing by Serie A rivals Roma in February 2004.

It was a busy night for Juve goalkeeper Szczesny, who stressed the Turin giants must not dwell on a painful evening in London.

"We were low and passive, it's a defeat that is difficult to explain, unacceptable, but we must forget [about it and] go on. Saturday is a difficult match against Atalanta," he told Mediaset.

"It is very important to have a match right away [after the Chelsea loss], so we have the opportunity to respond. After tonight there will be a lot of deserved criticism and on Saturday we will have to respond on the pitch.

"We saw a clear difference between us and Chelsea. We did very well in the first game [against Chelsea], but today we played below our level, they were at their level and we saw the difference."

Leonardo Bonucci said Juve must learn from being outplayed by Thomas Tuchel's in-form Chelsea.

"It's a heavy defeat, certainly, we have to take the lesson that against these teams you must always go at 1,000 kilometres per hour, because the moment you slow it down, they punish you," the stand-in captain told Sky Sport Italia and Sport Mediaset.

"It is important we learn the lessons from this game, which is that against these teams, you cannot lower the intensity or concentration for a moment.

"We conceded the first goal from a corner, it might've been handball. We should've controlled it better in the second half, as they caused us so many problems."

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